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DAP Health Celebrates Vision Forward Don …

DAP Health Ends Season with Double Ribbon-Cutting

Some 200 invited Partners for Life members gather to celebrate the expansion made possible by the ongoing Vision Forward campaign

By Daniel Vaillancourt

DAP Health hosted a season-closing event at its Palm Springs campus on the evening of May 4. Invited guests included some 200 members of the popular Partners for Life donor program, who not only witnessed a double ribbon-cutting but saw with their own eyes the considerable progress that’s been made in the organization’s physical expansion over the last year through contributions to the ongoing Vision Forward capital campaign.

The affair — which featured cocktails and wine, plus a generous sampling of delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy, as always, of Jerry Keller’s Lulu Catering — began, appropriately, in the Barbara Keller LOVE Building, which houses mental health services, the dentistry department, and the social services wing. Jerry Keller’s wife Barbara, who passed away in 2019, was a longtime supporter of DAP Health, and served as the president of its board of directors from 2009 to 2019.

Al Jones — whose major gift made the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, named after his late husband, a reality — was the first donor to speak. His heartfelt address was followed by the official ribbon-cutting of that new facility.

“Lance and I were honored to participate in the new mental health clinic, as the need is so great for our community,” added Scot Karp, speaking on behalf of himself and of his husband. Marc Byrd’s reception area was named thanks to a gift from the pair’s Karp Family Foundation.

Jones and the Karps were followed by Sue Burnside, the donor after whom DAP’s group therapy quarters is named. “I’m so excited,” said Burnside, who benefitted greatly from group therapy as a queer youth, “because I really think people’s lives are going to be changed in this room.”

Also on hand to speak about why they donated to name the social services wing were spouses Karla Kjellin-Elder and Jeff Elder, who impressed upon the assembled group that, since they recently relocated from Orange County to the desert, it was important for them to crystallize their commitment to their newly adopted community.


From there, attendees moved to the recently dedicated Annette Bloch CARE Building, currently home to the Blue, Green, and Yellow Clinics (all devoted to primary care), and soon to welcome the Orange Clinic (sexual health). Prior to the second ribbon-cutting (which marked the recent opening of the Blue and Green Clinics), Dante Noto — whose gift lent his name to the Blue Clinic Bullpen — spoke about his desire to pay tribute to the many doctors, nurses, and staff members who work in tandem every day to care for DAP’s more than 10,000 patients.

Last to speak at the soirée was DAP Health CEO David Brinkman, who thanked the agency’s many benefactors and community supporters for showing their support at special events held throughout the year — from the Desert AIDS Walk in the fall, to February’s Annette Bloch CARE Building dedication, to DAP’s biggest annual fundraiser, April’s The Chase.

In addition to Burnside, the Elders, Jones, the Karps, and Noto, other major donors in attendance included Steve Tobin and Johnny Kruppa of the Grace Helen Spearman Foundation.

Prior to the season-ending get-together, we asked all those who participated in available naming opportunities related to the Vision Forward campaign to tell us, in their own words, why it was important for them to give to DAP Health in the ways they did. Their responses are as follows:


Sue Burnside

The Sue Burnside Group Room

Group therapy harnesses the collective energy of community, and the powerful — indeed, life-changing — knowledge that none of us is alone. There is transformative, healing magic in such knowledge… Bearing gentle witness to the challenges, heartbreaks, highs, and lows of others is therapeutic, both for the listener and for the listened-to. This simple beauty of connection and community — the single most significant healing force in the world — reminds us of our shared human condition and our responsibility to one another. I’m grateful to contribute to such beautiful efforts in this small way.

Dr. Jim Cox

The Yellow Clinic’s Jack Pugh Charitable Trust Chiropractic Suite

It simply feels good to contribute to the well-being of others by giving to an institution that has wisely diversified in order to achieve longevity. As the population of the Coachella Valley continues to expand, there is — and will always be — a shortage of health care providers. We cannot afford to let one institution fail, particularly one that increasingly caters to a demographic being squeezed out by gentrification and rising inflation. Not to mention one that still prides itself on the care for those living with HIV/AIDS, an area where DAP not only has deep roots but, thankfully, the will to never give up.

Karla Kjellin-Elder & Jeff Elder

The Social Services Wing

We are part of this Coachella Valley community and, for us, being part of a community means we help each other. DAP has been making a difference in so many lives for years. We want to help them continue their work. Donating to the social services wing at DAP is our way of helping to make that difference.

Mike Feddersen & Tom McClay

The Blue Clinic Reception Area

Because it’s extremely important to us that quality health care be made available to every person in the Coachella Valley, regardless of ability to pay, we very much wanted to support DAP’s Vision Forward campaign. Blue being our favorite color, we are honored to have our names located on the Blue Clinic Reception Area. We congratulate DAP Health on its many worthwhile endeavors and are thankful to be part of its vision.

Al Jones

The Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic

In August of 2018, my husband of 26 years, Marc Byrd, died. He’d been HIV positive yet undetectable for 30 years, thanks to his faithfully taking a daily regimen of 19 pills. But a few months prior to his passing — unbeknownst to me — Marc chose to cease medicating himself, the result of severe depression he was so successful at hiding that not even I could fathom the depths of his despair. His immune system plummeted, leading to his body’s inability to fight off pneumonia. Had those of us who loved Marc been aware of his emotional state, we could have urged him to seek and receive the mental health support offered at DAP Health. His life might have been saved. I decided to make a contribution — an investment — in DAP in order to create the Marc Byrd Mental Health Clinic, which will help the organization provide a host of expanded services and treatments that will prevent others from succumbing to hopelessness. 


Scot & Lance Karp

The Mental Health Services Reception Area

With so many of our fellow community members having been so adversely affected by the pandemic, we feel the need for mental health care, support, and services is greater than ever. We’ve always been impressed with the broad-based portfolio of healing DAP Health provides, and admire the awareness, expertise, and stability brought by the organization’s long history with our community. We are not only honored to be able to support mental health wellness; we feel it’s our obligation. Through our continued involvement, we sincerely hope many others may be inspired to contribute what they can.

Dante Noto

The Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen

As a long-term HIV survivor, I was moved to make a legacy gift to DAP Health to honor friends, past and present, living and dying with HIV/AIDS. Members of the LGBT community have always stood together to save our own lives. DAP promises the same commitment to the entire desert community. My gift supports the Blue Clinic Clinical Bullpen to honor the tireless health care team at DAP.

Steve Tobin & Johnny Kruppa

The Orange Clinic Reception Area

Because DAP Health’s mission is perfectly aligned with the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation’s mission of helping to “improve the lives of the needy and less fortunate in our community,” it was imperative that we contribute to DAP’s Vision Forward campaign by naming The Orange Clinic Reception Area after Ms. Spearman in memory of her kind and loving vision.

For more information about DAP Health’s Vision Forward campaign, please contact Director of Development James Lindquist at [email protected] or 760.656.8413.

2019 Desert AIDS Walk “Walk a Day in …


Contact: Steven Henke

[email protected]

(760) 656-8401

PALM SPRINGS, CA- September 13, 2019 – Desert AIDS Project (DAP) (desertaidsproject.org) has announced the 32nd Annual Desert AIDS Walk at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 19, 2019. The walk will kick-off at Ruth Hardy Park, where over 2,000 humanitarian hearts will unite to walk for the future of health care and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS. Registration is now available online at www.desertaidswalk.org.

Every walker makes an impact with their fundraising to help expand DAP’s HIV testing and comprehensive, compassionate care for nearly 6,500 Coachella Valley neighbors and friends. You can make it all happen, and it starts with Desert AIDS Walk. The event is family and pet friendly with water stations along the route.

This year’s walk theme is “Walk a Day in Our Shoes.” Participants will walk a 3.5-mile round-trip walk through downtown Palm Springs.  The annual event is notable for the diversity of community members who come together each year to support DAP and the community partners who also benefit from the walk.

Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Development Officer, Darrell Tucci, on this year’s walk: “Desert AIDS Project has a long history as a leader in community healthcare and is unique in its approach to providing comprehensive services to underserved communities. We are, at our core, a non-profit health care center, specializing in HIV and infectious disease, supported in large part by the communities we serve.”

When the Walk kicks off at 9 a.m. it will be led by six-time Emmy Award-winning TV journalist, Hank Plante who was featured in the documentary “5B” about the first AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. He will be joined by health care providers from Desert AIDS Project and Desert Regional Medical Center. For those who haven’t seen the film, The Desert Sun is teaming up with NBC Palm Springs and Desert AIDS Project to host a special screening of the documentary at 7 p.m. on October 11 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. “5B” tells the true story of the group of nurses and caregivers who opened the world’s first AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital and changed the way patients were cared for during the 1980s AIDS epidemic. Hank Plante, will participate in a Q&A after the screening with DAP’s Dr. Shubha Kerkar. The event is free and open to the public, with suggested contributions supporting the scholarship fund of the local chapter of the Association of Nurses in AIDS care (ANAC). Reserve your free tickets online at tickets.desertsun.com starting September 22.

Desert AIDS Walk registration begins at 7 a.m and walkers are encouraged to come early to explore the Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens featuring 50 different booths, complimentary coffee and pastries courtesy of Koffi Palm Springs, a rock climbing wall, and a DJ who will be playing high energy music before the walk begins. At the end of the walk, participants can enjoy complimentary snacks provided by Sysco Riverside or food from Haus of Poke Food on Wheels and Hey Day Burger pop-up. Both will donate a percentage of sales to DAP. Kid’s Activity Zone. Live entertainment will continue until 1 p.m.

Desert AIDS Walk is presented by Desert Care Network in support of Desert AIDS Project. Hosting the mainstage for the third year in a row will be Bryan Gallo and Thalia Hayden from NBC Palm Springs.  They will be joined by Sandie Newton, the host of Your Health Today. DAP’s, -CEO David Brinkman and Chief Development Officer Darrell Tucci will speak about how funds from the walk will be used at Desert AIDS Project and why your support is essential to the mission of DAP. Tucci will introduce local political leaders who will welcome walkers. 

2019 Desert AIDS Walk Registration: desertaidswalk.org


7:00 AM – Walk Registration opens

8:00 AM – Stage Presentation

8:40 AM – Yoga Warm Up

8:50 AM – Moment of Silence

9:00 AM — Walk kick Off

10:30 AM – Walkers Return to Park – Complimentary Lunch sponsored by Sysco Riverside- Live entertainment and food trucks.

Desert AIDS Walk funds the work of Desert AIDS project:

  • Medical Care – Almost 6,500 clients call DAP their patient-centered medical home, and about half do not have HIV. In the earliest days of the AIDS crisis, DAP discovered health outcomes for our HIV positive clients increased when we provided healthcare to their life partners and family members who were acting as caregivers.  Today, DAP offers leading HIV specialty care as well as primary care for our community members not living with HIV.  Because there is enough love in this valley to help everyone thrive and also prevent new cases of HIV.
  • Transgender Care – DAP is guiding more and more transgender, intersex, and gender diverse clients on their gender journeys. In a little over a year, DAP has seen its client enrollment quadruple for these services. Too many transgender individuals in the Inland Empire assume they won’t ever access stigma-free and competent care. At DAP they never have to worry.
  • Hepatitis Center of Excellence – 202 clients have been cured of Hepatitis C since 2017. DAP averages 9 weeks to cure clients, and never turns people away if they do not have insurance. HCV is a silent killer, but DAP’s advocacy is a lot louder.
  • Dental Care – Dental access is vital for good health, especially for people living with HIV. DAP’s dental clinic had 5,188 visits last year and continues to add clients. A healthy mouth helps clients stay ahead of HIV, and everyone smile wider.
  • The DOCK – $25 STI screening and treatment. Confidential HIV and HCV testing. PrEP and PEP navigators to onboard new clients and help access cost assistance. Because we won’t stop the spread of HIV and STIs in the Coachella Valley if we don’t make testing and treatment available to everyone.
  • Behavioral HealthCare – Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists. Coping with HIV and life can be overwhelming. DAP Behavioral Health clinicians help clients find hope. Because with the right support, we can get through almost any storm.
  • Social Services –Case managers make accessing healthcare and support services a reality for DAP clients. Transportation, food, housing, and enrolling for federal, state and local resources to cover care. In a complex healthcare system, DAP takes the worry out of obtaining and keeping care. 
  • Housing – DAP helps clients into permanent residences and is developing more opportunities. Housing assistance is part of our prescription. Because access to medication is not enough to treat HIV—it also requires a place to live.
  • Back to Work—DAP’s back to work program has assisted over 200 clients re-enter the workforce when they were ready. This includes computer access, resume coaching, and placement. DAP helps clients determine readiness for employment and supports them throughout the process. Because having a job can be powerful medicine.
  • Client Wellness—A range of services, classes and support groups make DAP a community hub. Chair massage, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and reiki. Because the AIDS crisis taught us that holistic health works. Strength training, art, sculpting and sewing classes. Because curiosity is healthy. Aging with HIV, addiction and recovery advocacy, and many other support groups. Because DAP understands that when a few people get together to support each other, an entire humanitarian movement can be born.

2019 Desert AIDS Walk Sponsors

Desert AIDS Walk Presenting Sponsor: Desert Care Network

Health & Wellness Festival Presenting Sponsor: Walgreens

Major sponsors: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Desert Oasis Healthcare, Gilead, Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, Koffi, NBC Palm Springs, Sysco-Riverside, and The Desert Sun

Other Sponsors: Alpha Media, Bolour Immigration Group, Barkingham Pet Hotel, CV Independent, Forest Lawn, Gay Desert Guide, GED Magazine, NBC Your Health Today, Palm Springs Disposal Services, Palm Tree Clinical Research, Promo Homo TV, Rage Monthly, Revivals Stores, Sempra, Supercuts Palm Springs

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a Federally Qualified Health Center in Palm Springs, CA offering DAP Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services.  DAP’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STD testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future.  DAP has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the sixth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability, and transparency. Visit www.desertaidsproject.org, www.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.